Max and Moritz

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Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) (original: Max und Moritz - Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen) is a German language illustrated story in verse. This highly inventive, blackly humorous tale, told entirely in rhymed couplets, was written and illustrated by Wilhelm Busch and published in 1865. It is among the early works of Busch, nevertheless it already features many substantial, effectually aesthetic and formal regularities, procedures and basic patterns of Busch's later works.[1] Many familiar with comic strip history consider it to have been the direct inspiration for the Katzenjammer Kids. The German title satirizes the German custom of giving a subtitle to the name of dramas in the form of "Ein Drama in ... Akten" (A Drama of ... acts), which became dictums in colloquial usage for any event with an unpleasant or dramatic course, e.g. "Bundespräsidentenwahl - Drama in drei Akten" (Federal presidential Elections - Drama in Three Acts)[2].

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Cultural significance

Busch's classic tale of the terrible duo (now in the public domain) has since become a proud part of the culture in German-speaking countries. Even today, parents usually read these tales to their not-yet-literate children. To this day in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, a certain familiarity with the story and its rhymes is still presumed, as it is often referenced in mass communication. The two leering, cretinous faces are synonymous with mischief, and appear almost logo-like in advertising and even graffiti.

It even occurs that young German couples name their boy twins Max and Moritz respectively, depending on their individual sense of humour and the intended parenting.

Max and Moritz is the first published original foreign children’s book in Japan which was translated into rōmaji by Shinjirō Shibutani and Kaname Oyaizu in 1887 as Wanpaku monogatari ("Naughty stories").[3]

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